In Malaysia, school reports tend to be rather quantitative, whereby the marks (and grades) of each subject will be totalled up to determine a student's position in his/her class and cohort (very important to the parents, this :P). There will be a small space in the report card for the class teacher and headmaster/mistress to briefly comment on the student's progress. Most often, it will be some 'safe' forgetable comments such as "keep up the good work", "tingkatkan usaha anda", etc. Rarely would you come across a memorable comment which would 'haunt' you for the rest of your life as "suka berbual-bual dalam bilik darjah" (like to talk a lot in class)! Kah! Kah! Kah!
In contrast, school reports in the UK are more descriptive. No marks (surprise!). Just the students' level (on a Likert scale of 1 to 5) to indicate their performance in each subject. For example:
Level 3 and below represent "achievement below the nationally expected standard for most ___ year-olds".
Level 4 represent "achievement at the nationally expected standard..."
Level 5 & 6 represent the "achievement above the nationally expected standard..."
What is more important, the teacher takes time to describe the academic, as well as the social development of a child. Each child's achievement is 'celebrated' no matter how small it is. At the same time, a child's area of weakness is highlighted so that parents can work with the child to improve his/her deficiencies.
This is different from what I experienced back home. I could still remember my experience during 'report-card day' many moons ago. The moment my husband and I were seated, the teacher didn't waste any time pointing out the weakness of my daughter in math, that she needed to get 90% in all her subjects to be top ten in class (obviously, being in the top class of the cohort was not enough:P), that she was weak in this, weak in that, bla, bla, bla. If I were my daughter, I would be demoralized! I could still remember the weird look she gave us when my husband coolly told her that we were O.K with Nurul's 87% in math (still an A!), as we thought that she has yet to show her true potential (the daughter being the lazy bum that she was :P). When we asked the teacher what Nurul's strengths were (since she has told us loads of our daughter's weaknesses :P), she just couldn't answer. Hmm...
What can I say? The Malaysian education system is exam-oriented! Perhaps if teachers were not burdened by the system (and headteachers, and kiasu parents...) to churn out A students, they would take the trouble to nurture our young ones to realize their full potential as human beings (not just academically)?? I hope I live to see the day...